First Committee Sends 16 Drafts on Nuclear Disarmament to General Assembly, Including New One on ‘Ethical Imperatives’, Following 21 Recorded Votes

GA/DIS/3538
2 November 2015
Seventieth Session, 22nd Meeting (PM)

First Committee Sends 16 Drafts on Nuclear Disarmament to General Assembly, Including New One on ‘Ethical Imperatives’, Following 21 Recorded Votes

Acknowledging the ethical imperatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world, which was a “global public good of the highest order”, a new draft resolution in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) approved today asks the General Assembly to declare that those weapons were “inherently immoral” and that all States shared an ethical responsibility to eliminate and prohibit them.

That text, “L.40”, was among 16 approved by the Committee in its nuclear weapons cluster, many of which required recorded votes on internal provisions.  Further to its terms, the Assembly would declare that the global threat posed by nuclear weapons must urgently be eliminated, and that discussions, decisions and actions on nuclear weapons must focus on the effects of those weapons on human beings and the environment and be guided by the unspeakable suffering and unacceptable harm that they caused.

Approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 35 against, with 15 abstentions, the draft would declare that given the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, it was inconceivable that any use of nuclear weapons, irrespective of the cause, would be compatible with the requirements of international humanitarian law or international law, the laws of morality, or the dictates of public conscience.

A text on united action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, “L.26”, was approved by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 3 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation), with 17 abstentions.  It calls for the renewed determination of all States to take united action towards the total elimination of those weapons, with a view to achieving a safer, peaceful and secure world.

Prior to action on the text as a whole, recorded votes were requested on three separate provisions.  The first was on operative paragraph 5, by which the Assembly would call on all States not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States without any conditions.  The provision was retained by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe).

Another provision, operative paragraph 15, would have the Assembly urge all States concerned to immediately commence negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  It was retained by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 2 against (China, Pakistan), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Uganda, Zimbabwe).

Operative paragraph 19, retained by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 9 abstentions (Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe), would have the Assembly stress the fundamental role of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and the importance of universalizing them.

The Committee took three recorded votes on a text on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, “L.2”.  Introduced by Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, it would have the Assembly call for immediate steps towards the full implementation of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 NPT Review Conference.  That text would also have the Assembly reaffirm the importance of Israel’s accession to the NPT.  It was approved by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Palau, United States), with 19 abstentions.

Prior to taking action on that text as a whole, the Committee retained preambular paragraph 5, which would have the Assembly be mindful of the immediate need to place all nuclear facilities in the Middle East under IAEA safeguards, by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against (India, Israel, Palau), with 4 abstentions (Bhutan, Malawi, Pakistan, Panama).

Preambular paragraph 6, retained by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 3 against (India, Israel, Palau), with 3 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan, Panama), asked the Assembly to recall the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted by the 1995 NPT Review Conference.  In that decision, the Conference had urged universal adherence to the NPT as an urgent priority, and called for its speedy universalization.

Also approved today was a draft resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), “L.46”, which would have the Assembly urge all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions.  While stressing that those measures did not have the same permanent and legally binding effect as the Treaty’s entry into force, it would urge States to maintain their moratoriums and refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.  The text was approved by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions (India, Mauritius, Syria).

In addition, the Committee retained preambular paragraph 6 by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (India, Israel, Pakistan).  That provision would have the Assembly recall the adoption by consensus of the outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, in which the vital importance of the entry into force of the Treaty was reaffirmed as a core element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.

Also approved today was a draft, “L.23”, on follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 NPT Review Conferences. It was approved by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 46 against, with 15 abstentions. Prior to action on the text as a whole, recorded votes were requested on preambular paragraph 6, which was retained by 115 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions.

Also in the nuclear weapons cluster, recorded votes were needed for the approval of drafts on follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament; reducing nuclear danger; a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons; negative security assurances; humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons; the Humanitarian Pledge; nuclear disarmament; and follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Acting without a vote in that cluster, the Committee approved drafts on establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East; the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty; and prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes. 

Prior to action on that cluster, general statements were made by representatives of Australia, Sweden, Cuba, Austria and Myanmar, along with a representative of the European Union.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the votes were representatives of China, Israel, Brazil, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Iran, Egypt, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the United States.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the votes were the representatives of the Netherlands and Pakistan.

The representatives of Japan, Syria, China and Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 3 November, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

General Statements

IAN MCCONVILLE (Australia), speaking on behalf of 27 countries, said that the First Committee was about to take action on a group of resolutions that addressed the humanitarian concerns associated with nuclear weapons.  The humanitarian consequences of such a detonation were clear and not in dispute.  Security and humanitarian principles coexisted, and against that background, he regretted that the draft resolutions before the Committee did not reflect those realities and imperatives.  Rather, they increased international divisions, by marginalizing and delegitimizing certain policy positions.  He did not take it on faith that things would improve without concerted action.  The resolutions before the Committee did not bring the international community closer to its goals, and it was unfortunate that the humanitarian consequences discourse had not been a force for convergence at a time of increased geopolitical tensions.  It was more important than ever for the international community to engage in an open dialogue about nuclear disarmament, where all points of view were given their due, towards the goal of achieving a nuclear-weapon-free-world.

DANIEL NORD (Sweden) said that this year’s First Committee had seen a number of new resolutions.  While that was a welcome development, it also reflected worrying developments on the ground.  Dissatisfaction was growing at the slow progress of nuclear disarmament.  Insecurities were rising, and tensions were increasing between nuclear Powers.  Human beings should be put at the heart of discussions on disarmament.  Nuclear weapons had disastrous humanitarian consequences and should never be used again under any circumstances.  However, disarmament was not progressing well, and new measures and initiatives were needed in order to move forward.  Those should be concrete and aimed at results, meaning fewer nuclear weapons.  The possessor States were obligated to participate in such efforts.

ANDRAS KOS, of the European Union, reaffirmed support for the 1995 Middle East resolution adopted by the NPT Review and Extension Conference; it remained valid until its goals were achieved.  Regretting that the conference on  establishing such a zone in the Middle East had not been convened, he stressed that dialogue and confidence building were the only sustainable ways towards agreed arrangements for a meaningful conference attended by all States in that region.  He called on those in the region that had not yet done so to accede to the NPT, as well as to the Conventions on Chemical and Biological weapons, among others.  He welcomed the joint action plan of the E3+3 (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States and Germany) and Iran, and expressed full support for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s long-term mission of verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear-related commitments.  Iran should cooperate fully with the Agency regarding possible military dimensions, as agreed in the road map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues. 

IVIAN DEL SOL DOMINGUEZ (Cuba) said that her country had co-sponsored various draft resolutions in Cluster 1.  Draft resolution “L.15”, presented by the Non-Aligned Movement, included specific and tangible actions for nuclear disarmament, and noted the designation of 26 September as a day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  On “L.32”, she said that the text reiterated the demand for the urgent adoption of a legally binding international instrument through which the nuclear-weapon States would provide universal safety assurances without condition to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of such weapons.  Resolution “L.44” addressed nuclear disarmament most comprehensively, and identified key practical actions aimed at banning nuclear-weapon use leading towards those weapons’ elimination.  Resolution “L.51” was a follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which, in 1996, had called for good-faith nuclear disarmament negotiations under strict oversight.  Nuclear disarmament must not be endlessly postponed or have endless conditions attached to it.

ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria) said the debate on nuclear weapons in the First Committee was intense and very interesting.  While the degree of divergence should be of great concern, there were key points on which the international community was coming together.  He was encouraged to see that the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons were again being highlighted.  He hoped that “L.37” on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and “L.38” on the humanitarian pledge would receive the broadest possible support, and he thanked their co-sponsors.  The humanitarian focus was the best hope to shore up support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and create and maintain a strong disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime.

It was often heard, he noted, that nuclear disarmament must be based on the principle of undiminished security for all.  However, that was usually put forward by nuclear-weapon possessor States to lessen the importance of disarmament measures.  As long as nuclear weapons existed, the security of all humanity was dangerously diminished.  There were no right hands for the wrong weapons.  The international community needed to relinquish the notion of threatening unacceptable global consequences as a tool for security.  That was self-contradictory and an affront to the entire United Nations’ framework.

KYAW TIN (Myanmar), making a general statement on resolution “L.44” on nuclear disarmament, expressed firm belief that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use.  The resolution on nuclear disarmament was first introduced in 1995, exactly 20 years ago.  On behalf of its 52 co-sponsors, he invited all Member States to join the efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons by supporting the text.

Action on Texts

Speaking in explanation of vote before action on the nuclear weapons cluster, the representative of China first expressed sympathy with the Russian delegation for the loss of life in the recent crash of a passenger jet.  He went on to say that he would vote against “L.26”, tabled by Japan.  The moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices could neither be clearly defined nor effectively verified and had no practical significance.  On the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they were historical tragedies, but it was inappropriate to highlight them in isolation.  Humanitarianism should not be used by a “certain country” or as a “tool to obscure and distort history”.  History should be treated as an indivisible whole, and looking at a specific event in isolation would distort the whole truth.

During the war that took place over 70 years ago, China had suffered 35 million casualties at the hands of Japanese aggressors, he said, adding that the suffering of those victims was no less than that in Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  He added that Japan had repeatedly refused to admit to war crimes, including the Nanjing Massacre, in defiance of irrefutable evidence, but “it wants the whole world to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.  That was “blatant hypocrisy” and a double standard.  Japan was still enjoying the “benefit of the nuclear umbrella” and accumulating weapons-grade fissile material, which far exceeded its legitimate needs.  A nation that did not have the courage to face up to its own history was in no position to take on greater international responsibilities.

Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Israel said that it would vote against “L.2” submitted by the Arab Group.  That resolution created an “imaginary reality” by neglecting to address Syria as a continued proliferation threat in the region.  It similarly chose to disregard Iran, which remained the “biggest menace” to peace and security in the region and beyond.  The resolution’s treatment of the Helsinki Conference was far removed from the efforts that had taken place, including five rounds of direct regional consultations conducted between 2013 and 2014.  Israel had always maintained a policy of responsibility and restraint in the nuclear domain and in support of the goals of nuclear non-proliferation, and would continue to do so.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Brazil said he would vote in favour of “L.20” on reducing nuclear danger, because the risks of those weapons’ accidental use must be reduced.  However, measures such as reviewing nuclear doctrines, de-alerting and de-targeting were no substitute for multilateral agreements on the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, which were the biggest threat to civilization.  His delegation would also vote in favour of “L.21,” on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons.  However, he stressed the need to go beyond the prohibition of nuclear weapons to their complete elimination.  His delegation would also vote in favour of “L.38,” on the humanitarian pledge, because he supported its scope, specific provisions, and ultimate objectives.  Brazil had been one of the first countries to have endorsed that pledge, issued by Austria, during the third conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  However, the delegation was concerned over the term “human security,” because that concept was not yet sufficiently developed and lacked the precision to underpin an official, international document.  The resolution would gain clarity by dispensing with the term “human security”, although the term did not interfere with Brazil’s support of the draft as a whole.

The representative of Ecuador said that since the Committee’s sixty-sixth session, his delegation had abstained on the draft on united action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, now, “L.26”.  At last year’s session, as a result of an amendment by the draft’s principle sponsor, Ecuador had been able to support it for the first time, although there were still gaps.  Thus, the delegation last year had said that it must carefully review the version to be submitted this year.  As it stood in 2014, there were missing elements, which needed to be included in any resolution addressing nuclear disarmament.  The resolution also should have a reference to a legally binding instrument that contained negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon-States, and for a convention prohibiting the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons.  Since the sponsors of this year’s text had not taken Ecuador’s comments into account, the delegation would abstain.

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking also on behalf of France and the United States, said that they would vote against “L.37”, “L.38” and “L.40”.  He agreed that devastating humanitarian consequences could result from the use of nuclear weapons.  However, the real question was what conclusions to draw from that fact.  The co-sponsors of the humanitarian consequences initiatives sought to prohibit nuclear weapons, and their actions could serve to undermine the NPT.  He was committed to pursuing the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, but that could not take place in isolation of security concerns.  The step-by-step approach was the only way to achieve global stability.  Working together, States could create conditions in which such weapons are no longer needed.

The representative of Iran, speaking on “L.2”, said that the Israeli regime’s nuclear weapons programme posed a threat to the non-nuclear-weapon States in the Middle East.  That regime’s aggressive policies and non-adherence to international law was a serious threat to peace and security in the Middle East and the only obstacle to establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region.  Peace and stability could not be achieved as long as such an irresponsible regime defied repeated calls from the international community.  At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, all States had unanimously called on Israel to accede without any condition and put its clandestine nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards.  He urged States to remember that when voting on “L.2”.  Iran would support it.

The representative of Egypt said that on “L.26,” his delegation fully shared the objective of general and complete disarmament, ending in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  However, the resolution fell short of the aspiration to achieve that common objective, and Egypt would therefore abstain.  He reaffirmed the fact that nuclear-weapon States bore the exclusive obligation to achieve complete and general nuclear disarmament, in accordance with article VI of the NPT.  Several clauses of the draft resolution demanded equally for all States parties to take effective measures, which was unfair and legally unfounded.  The remaining Annex 2 nuclear-weapon States of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) should accede to it.  While satisfied with the preambular paragraph of “L.26” that stressed the importance of the 1995 NPT Review Conference, Egypt was concerned about the lack of direct linkage between the terms of reference and the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Relocating that clause to the preambular section from the operative section would send the wrong signal about its importance.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that his delegation rejected “L.26,” because it contained assertions that did not correctly reflect the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, which was a product of the United States’ nuclear threats.  His country’s nuclear deterrence was to defend the supreme interests of the country and safeguard regional peace and security.  Whether or not the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was recognized as a nuclear-weapon State under the NPT was not important.  It was safeguarding its security and sovereignty with its nuclear deterrent.  It was incredible that Japan could talk of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as that was the height of hypocrisy and deceit.  Whenever possible, Japan played the pathetic victim of nuclear weapons, but that was only “a paradox,” since Japan was under the United States’ nuclear umbrella.  His delegation would vote against “L.26.”

The representative of the United States said his delegation would vote “no” on “L.2” on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  As had been reported many times, that vote was based on the fact that such unbalanced resolutions would not advance a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.  Establishing such a zone would require the participation of all concerned States, and singling out one would not advance that goal.  The United States continued to support universal adherence to the NPT and a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  That worthy goal was complex and achievable once essential conditions were in place.  Notwithstanding that position, the United States was committed to convening a conference on that zone.  Politically motivated resolutions, however, would only move the regional States further apart.  The only way to make meaningful progress was through face-to-face dialogue between the regional parties.  The United States stood ready to support such discussion, but the impetus must come from the regional States themselves.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution entitled Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/70/L.1).

By its terms, the General Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned to consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and, as a means of promoting that objective, would invite the countries concerned to adhere to the NPT.

That resolution was then approved without a vote.

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution, introduced by Egypt on behalf of the Arab group, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/70/L.2), which would have the Assembly call for immediate steps towards the full implementation of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 NPT Review Conference.  It would also have the Assembly reaffirm the importance of Israel’s accession to the NPT, as well as the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

Prior to taking action on that text as a whole, the Committee voted to retain preambular paragraph 5, which would have the Assembly be mindful of the immediate need to place all nuclear facilities in the Middle East under IAEA safeguards, by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against (India, Israel, Palau), with 4 abstentions (Bhutan, Malawi, Pakistan, Panama).

The Committee also voted to retain preambular paragraph 6 by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 3 against (India, Israel, Palau), with 3 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan, Panama).  That provision would have the Assembly recall the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted by the 1995 NPT Review Conference, in which the Conference urged universal adherence to the NPT as an urgent priority, and called upon all States not yet parties to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest date.

The resolution as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Palau, United States), with 19 abstentions.

The Committee then took action on a draft resolution, introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, entitled Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/70/L.15). Convinced that nuclear disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use, the text would have the Assembly recall its decision to convene, no later than 2018, a United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament.

That draft was approved by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 26 against, with 17 abstentions.

The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on Reducing nuclear danger (document A/C.1/70/L.20), by which the Assembly would call for a review of nuclear doctrines as well as the taking of immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, including through de-alerting and de-targeting.

That draft was approved by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 48 against, with 11 abstentions.

Next, the Committee considered the draft resolution on a Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/70/L.21).  Convinced that the use of nuclear weapons posed the most serious threat to the survival of mankind, it would have the Assembly reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

That draft was approved by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 49 against, with 8 abstentions (Armenia, Belarus, Japan, Palau, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Uzbekistan).

The Committee next took action on a draft resolution, introduced by Iran, entitled Follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/70/L.23).  By the text, the Assembly would urge States parties to the NPT to follow up implementation of the nuclear disarmament obligations agreed at the Treaty’s 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.

Prior to action on that text as a whole, the Committee voted to retain preambular paragraph 6, by which the Assembly would recall that, on 11 May 1995, the 1995 NPT Review Conference had adopted three decisions on strengthening the review process for the Treaty, principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and extension of the Treaty.  That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions.

The Committee then approved that draft as a whole by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 46 against, with 15 abstentions.

Next, the Committee took up the draft on United action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/70/L.26), by which the Assembly would renew the determination of all States to take united action towards the total elimination of those weapons, with a view to achieving a safer, peaceful and secure world.

Prior to action on that draft as a whole, the Committee voted to retain operative paragraph 5, which would have the Assembly call on all States not party to the NPT to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States without any conditions.  That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe).

The Committee then voted to retain operative paragraph 15, which would have the Assembly urge all States concerned to immediately commence negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 2 against (China, Pakistan), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Uganda, Zimbabwe).

The Committee also voted to retain operative paragraph 19 by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 9 abstentions (Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe).  That provision would have the Assembly stress the fundamental role of IAEA safeguards and the importance of universalizing them.

The Committee approved that resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 3 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation), with 17 abstentions.

Next, the Committee then took up the draft resolution entitled Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/70/L.32).

By its terms, the Assembly would appeal to all States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to work actively towards an early agreement on a common approach and, in particular, on a common formula that could be included in an international instrument of a legally binding character.  The Assembly would also recommend that the Conference on Disarmament actively continue intensive negotiations with a view to reaching early agreement and concluding effective international agreements to assure the non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

That resolution was then approved by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to none against, with 56 abstentions.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution entitled Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/70/L.37), by which the Assembly would emphasise that the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons would never be used again was their total elimination.  It would call on all States, in their shared responsibility, to prevent the use of nuclear weapons and their vertical and horizontal proliferation.

By a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 18 against, with 21 abstentions, the Committee approved the text.

It next took up the draft resolution entitled Humanitarian pledge for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/70/L.38), which would have the Assembly urge all States parties to the NPT to renew their commitment to the urgent and full implementation of their article VI obligations.  It would call on all States to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of such weapons and to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve that goal.  Also, the Assembly would request all States possessing nuclear weapons, pending the total elimination of their arsenals, to take concrete interim measures to reduce the risk of detonations.  Those would include such actions as reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons, moving those weapons away from deployment and into storage, and diminishing the role of those weapons in military doctrines.

That resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 29 against, with 18 abstentions.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution entitled Ethical imperatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world (document A/C.1/70/L.40).  By its terms, the General Assembly would acknowledge the ethical imperatives for nuclear disarmament and the urgency of achieving and maintaining a nuclear-weapon-free world, which was a “global public good of the highest order”, serving both national and collective security interests.  It would stress that all States shared an ethical responsibility to act with urgency and determination, with the support of all relevant stakeholders, to take the effective measures, including legally binding measures, necessary to eliminate and prohibit all nuclear weapons, given their catastrophic humanitarian consequences and associated risks.

 That resolution was then approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 35 against, with 15 abstentions.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution entitled Nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/70/L.44), which would have the Assembly urge all nuclear-weapon States to take effective disarmament measures to achieve the total elimination of those weapons as soon as possible and to immediately stop the qualitative improvement, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems. Pending the achievement of the total elimination, the Assembly would call on States to agree on an internationally and legally binding instrument as a joint undertaking to not to be the first to use those weapons.

Prior to action on that draft as a whole, the Committee voted to retain operative paragraph 16 by 163 in favour to 3 against (Pakistan, Ukraine, United States), with 6 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, Israel, Palau, South Africa, United Kingdom).  That provision called for the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament, in the context of an agreed, comprehensive and balanced programme of work, and on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices on the basis of the Special Coordinator’s report and mandate.

The resolution as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 42 against, with 16 abstentions.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution entitled Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (document A/C.1/70/L.46).  By its terms, the Assembly would urge all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions.  While stressing that those measures did not have the same permanent and legally binding effect as the Treaty’s entry into force, it would urge States to maintain their moratoriums and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.  The Assembly would also call on all States that had not yet signed the Treaty, in particular those whose ratification was needed for its entry into force, to sign and ratify as soon as possible; it would call on all States that had signed but not yet ratified the Treaty to accelerate their ratification processes.

The Committee voted to retain preambular paragraph 6 by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (India, Israel, Pakistan).  That provision would have the Assembly recall the adoption by consensus of the outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, in which the vital importance of the entry into force of the Treaty was reaffirmed as a core element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime; it also included specific actions to be taken in support of operationalizing the Treaty.

The resolution as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions (India, Mauritius, Syria).

The Committee next took action on a draft resolution entitled Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/70/L.51), which would have the Assembly underline the unanimous conclusion of the court to conclude negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament, and call on all States to immediately commence multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.

That resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 24 against, with 24 abstentions.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution, introduced by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, entitled African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (document A/C.1/70/L.55).

By its terms, the Assembly, considering that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East, would enhance the security of Africa and the viability of its zone, would call on African States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify that Treaty as soon as possible.  It would also call on the African States parties to the NPT that had not yet done so to conclude comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreements pursuant to the Treaty’s relevant requirements.

That resolution was then approved without a vote.

Next, the Committee then took up the draft resolution, introduced by Belize and Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, entitled Prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes (document A/C.1/70/L.56).  By its terms, the Assembly would call upon all States to take appropriate measures to prevent any dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes, and would appeal to all that had not yet done so to take the necessary steps to become party to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management as soon as possible.

That resolution was approved without a vote.

The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a group of likeminded countries, explained their “no” vote on “L.15”.  He said that they shared the goal of that resolution, a world free of nuclear weapons, but regretted that various proposals made during the high-level meeting on 26 September 2013 were not captured in the resolution in years past and only one viewpoint had been brought forward.  This year’s draft made no clear reference to the NPT, and the main sponsors had been unable to address those concerns.  The aim of another high-level meeting on disarmament in 2018 was unclear, and it was regrettable that the focus was not on finding and discussing steps towards a nuclear-weapon-free world that united, rather than divided, States.  Neither the United Nations nor the cause of disarmament was helped by “yet another International Day” and he regretted that the resolution added further elements to that Day.

Also speaking in explanation after the vote, the representative of Pakistan said it continued to support the primary focus of “L.2”, but believed that its references to recommendations from NPT Review Conferences should be qualified.  He was disappointed at the unrealistic call on Pakistan to join the Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  His country was a nuclear-weapon State and there was no question of it joining as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  Therefore, it had voted against preambular paragraphs 5 and 6 of “L.2”.

On “L.21”, Pakistan, he explained, had voted in its favour, but some of its provisions were out of sync with contemporary realities.  The subject of nuclear weapons needed to be tackled through a comprehensive approach, in the Conference on Disarmament.  It was important to recognize the context and motivation of States to possess such weapons.  In Pakistan’s case, it had to exercise its right to self-defence, which was consistent with the spirit and purposes of the United Nations Charter and international law.  States’ right to security was also a prerequisite to a comprehensive approach to disarmament.

Turning to “L.23”, he said Pakistan had abstained.  It was supportive of disarmament, however, as an NPT non-party, it could not be bound by the Treaty including those aspects related to its universality.

He went on to disagree with several provisions of “L.26”, noting also the lack of engagement and consultations on the text.  He rejected the call for his country’s accession to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon State.  He supported the objective of total elimination of nuclear weapons and agreed with some elements, but Pakistan could not agree with the fissile material negotiations provision.  It was ironic that the resolution called for only the non-proliferation of fissile materials.  Nevertheless, the text was still an improvement over the previous version.  In view of Pakistan’s reservations, it had abstained in voting on operative paragraphs 5 and 19, and on the resolution as a whole, and had voted against operative paragraph 15.  On “L.37”, “L.38”, “L.40”, Pakistan supported disarmament objectives and shared the concerns and anxieties expressed in the humanitarian initiative.  It had participated in the discourse at the three conferences.  But the nuclear disarmament issue could not be reduced to a paradigm of the humanitarian dimension.  It was important to understand the context of States possessing such weapons, such as self-defence.  Considering that those resolutions sought to keep a singular focus on one aspect of disarmament to the exclusion of others, Pakistan had been obliged to abstain.

On “L.44”, he said Pakistan could not agree to the call for the full implementation of the NPT Review Conference action plan and had abstained from voting. Turning to “L.46”, Pakistan supported the CTBT and had voted in favour of the resolution, as in past years.  He reiterated that his country was not bound by NPT reviews or other forums where it was not represented.  Thus, it had abstained from voting on preambular paragraph 6, although it had voted in favour of the resolution as a whole.  On “L.51”, he supported the goal of disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons and agreed with many aspects of the resolution.  Pakistan had voted in its favour, however, that vote should not be construed as an endorsement of the outcomes of NPT Review Conferences.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of his right of reply, the representative of Japan, responding to China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said their focus on certain issues and past events concerning the War was neither constructive nor productive.  A rebuttal of each point of those statements would not contribute to the current discussion.  It was now important for both China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to contribute instead to tackling common challenges facing the international community.

Also in exercise of the right to reply, the representative of Syria said that the representative of the Israeli regime did not know its own history.  It had been the first to use biological and chemical weapons in the Middle East.  Saying he wished to give the representative a brief history of what her regime had done since 1948, he said that the Israeli weapons of mass destruction doctrine had begun with Ben-Gurion and an injection of typhoid in drinking water.  It had also ordered the recruitment of scientists and experts for the Israeli Institute for Biological Research, which, for years, had conducted research in secret until a plane crash in Tel Aviv.  A report had revealed that the plane’s shipment originated in the United States, which was a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Israel had also used weapons of mass destruction against Palestinians in Gaza and in Lebanon.  Lengthy research and analysis showed the use of tungsten and phosphorus shells against the largely unarmed and defenceless Palestinian population in Gaza.  The United Nations fact-finding report had also reiterated other studies confirming Israel’s disproportionate use of force in Gaza and possible crimes against humanity, including its use of phosphorus.

The representative of China reminded the representative of Japan that it was his country that was repeatedly raising past events.  The reason for China’s response was to set the record right and give the world the full picture of the Second World War.  China was ready to look to the future, but that had to be based on the correct recognition of history.  That was what China was urging the Japanese Government to do and what it was refusing to do.

The representative of Israel, in her right of reply, rejected wholly the statement made by the representative of Syria.  She said that statement came from a State that, over the course of the last several years, had caused the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands of its own people by barrel bombs and other means. It had also caused the displacement of that population and had been the subject of numerous Security Council resolutions for its non-compliance.  She called on Syria to use its energy to look into its own conduct and better itself. 

For information media. Not an official record.